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LAS Decries Mayor's Insufficient Emergency Rikers Relief Plan

The Legal Aid Society is decrying Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently announced emergency Rikers relief plan because it does not include any plans to remove New Yorkers from an extremely dire situation, as reported by AMNY.

There is a growing humanitarian crisis unfolding in City jails, where at least ten individuals have died this year. In addition to the increasing spread of COVID-19, a mass wave of staff absenteeism has compounded long-standing problems to create an extraordinarily dangerous environment for people in custody.

“It is simply unconscionable and unworkable that significant and immediate steps to decarcerate Rikers Island and other local jails are not a fundamental part of this plan,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Fixing this multi-layered crisis will take time — time that people whose lives are in jeopardy from dangerous and uncontrolled conditions do not have.”

The policy is already in place for the Mayor to release a significant number of individuals to work-release, something his administration did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through Mayor de Blasio’s own plan, The Early Release (6A) Program, City Hall could immediately release more than 250 people serving less than a year for low-level crimes, requiring them to serve the remainder of their short sentences on work-release,” Luongo continued. “We call on Mayor de Blasio to utilize this program at once.”